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The Librarian Who Measured the Earth Hardcover – September 1, 1994


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 6 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 1
  • Lexile Measure: 840L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1st edition (September 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316515264
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316515269
  • Product Dimensions: 11.6 x 8.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Newbery Honor author Lasky (Sugaring Time) deserves high marks for her attempt to present formal mathematical concepts in a picture-book format. The result, however, is a somewhat uneven amalgam of fable, history and science that struggles to find an appropriate age group. She tells the story of Eratosthenes, the ancient Greek librarian who figured out how to calculate the circumference of the earth by a sophisticated process involving sun and shadows. In an author's note, Lasky explains that since there is little extant documentation pertaining to Eratosthenes himself, her job as historian became to "responsibly imagine based on what we already know." Unfortunately, the simplistic language and imagery she uses to describe his life contrast awkwardly with the somewhat daunting details of his mathematical innovations. Older readers who can understand abstract calculations might well be put off by such lines as "More than two thousand years ago a very smart baby was born." Hawkes (see The Nose, reviewed above) handsomely illustrates both the mathematical and historical concepts with his signature touch of whimsy. His stunning acrylics add significant interest to the volume. Ages 6-10.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-5-This picture book covers the life of Eratosthenes of Cyrene, a geographer who estimated the circumference of the Earth in around 200 B.C.. Though he was in fact a librarian, he is famous for his scientific accomplishments. Since little is known about his personal life, Lasky describes his early years in general terms. He liked to ask questions, loved learning at the gymnasium, and sailed off to Athens to further his studies. He became tutor to the son of King Ptolemy III of Egypt, and eventually became the head of Alexandria's magnificent library. Readers don't come to know the subject intimately, but they do get to know his times very well. The narrative is filled with fascinating details about his world. Hawkes's illustrations make a large contribution, as they contain authentic examples of the art, architecture, and social structure of ancient life. His paintings are rich and warm and filled with touches of humor, making the people, as well as their environment, come alive. The pictures combine with the text to give a clear explanation of how the man came to make his key discovery about the Earth's circumference. A fine combination of history, science, and biography.
Steven Engelfried, West Lynn Library, OR
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Hi Readers! Thanks for coming by my author page. I've written all sorts of books - from fantasy about animals to books about science. One of my favorite animal fantasy series, Guardians of Ga'Hoole, is a major motion picture. I liked writing about Ga'Hoole so much that I decided to revisit that world in a different series, Wolves of the Beyond. I've recently added a new Guardians book: The Rise of A Legend, the story of Ezylryb, the great sage of the Ga'Hoole Tree. Another new book just came out, the first in the Horses of the Dawn series. I think of it as an equine retelling of the Spanish conquest of the New World. Visit my website, www.kathrynlasky.com for the latest news. All my best, Kathryn

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 23 customer reviews
The language and great illustrations make the math easy to understand.
MOR
His computation was about 200 miles off of the distance we measured in this century!
ChristineMM
Lasky and Hawkes have created a must-have book for libraries, both school and home!
Judy K. Polhemus

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By ChristineMM TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a picture book format biography of Eratosthenes, who lived in Ancient Greece, focusing on how he calculated the size of the Earth using a mathematical formula and measurements taken by measuring shadows and length of footsteps from one location to another. Eratostehenes had many roles and talents, one being that he was a mathematician and author of books on several topics. He wrote the first geography book, which included the first map of the world and the first documentation of the size of the Earth.
The publisher says this is for ages 4-8 however the math concept of the formula he used to determine the size of the Earth was too complex for my 6 year old to grasp. The text is long-ish compared to a typical picture book as well, so I think this can extend a little beyond 8 yrs. if it is acting as a brief biography. I am not sure how many chapter book format biographies are out there for kids 9 and up on Eratosthenes, so this may be better than nothing for older kids!
The colorful pictures are nice and really compliment the text, especially when showing how he thought about measuring the Earth and comparing it to a grapefruit. It also addresses the idea of asking questions, curiosity, and making guesses at answers about things in the world that they did not yet know about.
This is a combination of history, math, and geography with a little scientific thought thrown in. It laid out his first questions and theories and how he came up with different ideas to come up with a way to measure a part of the land. We learn about what worked and what failed, leading up to how he finally came to a method that he thought was accurate, and why he thought this formula would work. His computation was about 200 miles off of the distance we measured in this century!
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book for students of all ages! The story of the project to measure the earth well before Columbus reminds student that history has myths. Many people not only knew the earth was round but also about how big it was. Columbus ignored this ancient data and grossly miscalculacted the circumference. This book is a resource for studies across the curriculum. Including history, math, and geography in a fairly easy to read format. The age 4-8 for reading level is not accurate. The reading is probably around intermediate grade level and much of the technical information is secondary school level. It is a super adition to any library.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By MOR on March 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a teacher, I've used this book for several years as a "read-aloud" in my sixth grade math classroom. I time it with my geometry units. It's a hit every time. The kids truly love it, and ask great follow-up questions. The book explains the math involved in finding the circumference of the earth 2000 years ago. The language and great illustrations make the math easy to understand. Since the students also read mythology in reading class, it's a perfect cross-curricululm connection. In the past two years, I've timed it to coincide with the "Read Across America" movement on March 2.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mindy on February 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As a sixth-grade Social Studies teacher I needed ways to integrate other subject areas into my curriculum. I came across this book while researching for a unit on Ancient Greece. The book has pictures that are vivid and exciting and follow young Eratosthenes throughout his life until the time in which he "measured the Earth" . My students will find its words complex enough to keep them interested but simplistic enough to follow along. This can be integrated well with math lessons dealing with angles and circumference. I found the book to be extremely enjoyable.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 27, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This picture book gives a history of the first man who figured out how to measure the diameter of the earth. It makes the mathematics accessible as well as showing that you don't have to be a mathemetician to use math.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I read this book in order to write up a reading/math lesson related to circumference. I thought that the book was very informative, had terrific pictures, and was a fairly easy read. I think that the children (6th graders) would enjoy reading it in class, if given the chance. I would have liked if the book went over, in more detail, how he determined the equation. (The children tend to ask how he got it!) It would have been useful to know the equation he used, but it does not matter because one's lesson can be modified to use the information provided in the book. I tied in the reading to a circumference lesson and had the children find the circumference of the earth.
Overall, this is a terrific book. I thought that it was a fun read, and is a great teaser when going into a circumference lesson.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kevin M Caruso on February 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The notion of being able to measure the circumference of the Earth without high-tech assistance is fascinating. The book clearly shows how a clever man not only demonstrated that the Earth is spherical, but how one can measure its circumference with good accuracy.
I liked to book a lot.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Judy K. Polhemus TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is amazing how the union of art and words can produce a book so full of wonders. How to count them? How to describe them? Perhaps the bibliography is the place to begin. The writer Kathryn Lasky consulted nine sources for the information incorporated into the story of Eratosthenes; Kevin Hawkes, the illustrator, used sixteen.

Each double-page spread of illustration displays the artist's extensive knowledge of all things Greek and Cyrenian (Greek city on the coast of Africa in what is now Libya, where Eratosthenes grew up). Textile patterns, Greek urn art, linens, palm trees, brick work, plant life, housing, clothing styles, educational settings, musical instruments, mathematical counting methods, colors, architecture, landscaping. These are just a few items from the first few pages. The artwork is truly magnificent, yet part of the story as information. His intense and deep bright colors match the intensity of North Africa.

Lasky also pours information into the story, revealing pretty much what it was like in Eratosthenes' day. As for Eratosthenes, Lasky notes in the introduction that not much is known about his life, but much is known of the Greek world, its people, and its culture. All Lasky had to do was place an intensely curious child into the Greek setting to lay the background for the development of this genius.

As a librarian, I was most impressed with the library in Alexandria and how it was run. Being named head librarian was a real turning point for Eratosthenes, as the library put at his disposal all the information he needed for solving a long-time problem that occupied his mind: How big around is the Earth?
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